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Proposed Anti-Spying Legislation May Not Be Cause for Alarm for Gamers in Congress

On Thursday April 30, 2020 U.S. Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley announced their intent to introduce the ” Countering Chinese Attempts at Snooping ” Act,  with the goal of “… Banning U.S. Officials from Using Tencent, … [and] Other Chinese Communist Party-Backed Platforms.” Specifically, the legislation requires that the company that creates the prohibited technology be “domiciled in the People’s Republic of China or subject to influence or control by the Government of the People Republic of China or the Communist Party of the People’s Republic of China” (“China”).  Given Tencent’s investments and involvement in some of the most popular game companies, this may come as a concern to the gamers in congress. But there are two reasons why this legislation may not cut into their gaming sessions.

The first reason is that this legislation is unlikely to implicate the use of the most popular games produced by Tencent related entities which are domiciled outside of China. Assuming these entities are not subject to the influence of or controlled by China, it is possible that such entities are not covered by the legislation.

The second reason is that the legislation only prohibits “conduct[ing] official business” on these platforms. While gaming may be more important now than ever, many games, played just for recreation, are unlikely to be covered conduct under the legislation. However, it is possible that so-called “serious games” which use games for government training, simulations and other government purposes possibly could have official government business occurring on these platforms.

Although the exact list of technologies covered by the proposed legislation has not been determined, and it’s not clear that the legislation will even be voted into law, it’s unlikely that this legislation will significantly impact congresspeople’s ability to play their favorite games in their down time.

Copyright © 2020, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP.National Law Review, Volume X, Number 128


About this Author

Ethan R. Aronson Entertainment litigation attorney Sheppard Mullin Law Firm

Ethan R. Aronson is an attorney in the Corporate Practice Group in the firm's New York office.